Democrat congressman: 'It just looks like we're pickpocketing the public' without a stock ban

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose husband's stock purchases have often raised eyebrows, didn't bring the stock ban bill to the floor before the House left for recess until after the Nov. 8 election

Updated: October 1, 2022 - 12:00pm

Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver says he fully supports the House Democratic leadership's stock ban bill, which covers spouses and dependent children, and said the issue isn't going away despite the House not voting on the bill before leaving town.

The Democrat-led House left for recess on Friday after passing a continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded through Dec. 16.

The stock ban bill, the Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, won't see a vote before the Nov. 8 election takes place. Pelosi had said she would bring it to the floor this month.

Cleaver was asked for his opinion of the legislation.

"I support it, 100%," he replied. "I think with the approval rating of Congress almost in single digits, we ought to do everything we can to erase the negative, as much negativity as we can. And it just looks like we're pickpocketing the public when we end up in Congress and then pull in hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments."

In addition to members of Congress, the ban in the bill would cover senior officials in all three branches of government and extend the individual stock trading ban to spouses and dependent children. The legislation also covers cryptocurrencies. 

The release of the full text of the legislation comes after some of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul's most recent trades have made headlines. For example, he purchased between $1 million and $5 million of stock in a semiconductor company ahead of an expected vote on legislation that contained $52 billion for chipmakers.

Pelosi's office said she had "no prior knowledge" of her husband's stock purchase.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva said he would have liked to see the House vote on a stock ban bill before leaving for recess. 

"I wish we would have," he said.

Grijalva explained that he originally supported Virginia Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger's "more definitive and more direct" stock ban legislation.

"We don't have a lot of bipartisanship here, but there seems to be some bipartisan desire not to move forward," he said.

Spanberger called for new House leadership after Pelosi did not bring a stock ban bill to the floor for a vote before the recess.

"This moment marks a failure of House leadership," she said, "and it's yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill, as I have long made known.

Pelosi responded to Spanberger's statement at a news conference on Friday.

"First of all, her bill is contained in this bill," Pelosi said. "Other Members had ideas too, to improve upon the bill. ... I don't know what her statement is, but it is contrary to what the House Administration Committee — I said to them, 'Whatever you — whatever the Members want to do, I fully support.' And they took her bill, added others that made the bill stronger, as a matter a fact. So this is an interesting press release, but it's more important to write a bill."

Pelosi was asked if she has the votes to pass the stock ban bill.

"We'll see," she said. "We'll work to have the votes."

The lack of stock trading laws applicable to members of Congress was thrust into the public eye after the 2011 publication of the book "Throw Them All Out" by Peter Schweizer.

After its release, Congress passed the STOCK Act, which was designed to prevent insider trading in Congress, and former President Obama signed the bill into law. The bill requires members of Congress to file financial disclosure reports showing purchases they or their spouses made.